Mountain and Water Series 2 (Lot 420) is a rare early work in the calligraphic vein by the artist. The sharp visual contrasts belie the spirit of Chinese ink art and ethos. Born in 1965, Xue experienced one of the most tumultuous turning points in Chinese history, from Maoism, to the opening to the West. During these turbulent years, icons and ideologies morphed quickly in a rapidly changing country. The artist has experimented with a variety of topics in his series, ranging from political personages, vintage advertisement characters, popular cultural icons, to the reinterpretation of shan shui paintings by Chinese maestro, Hong Ren. Xue Song excelled in creating his own visions by scribbling Chinese characters in different calligraphic scripts. This work is intriguingly literal, as it depicts the two Chinese characters for mountain and water which, together, refer to the classical styles of Chinese landscape painting. The choice of colours for each character also alludes to Chinese symbolism, the mountain character being green, like the element of Wood; and the water character being black, as one of the Five Elements in Chinese philosophy. Both characters run the width of the canvas, standing erect in the white background and looking awe-inducing. The multitude of references and symbols in Xue Song’s works enrich the various layers of open interpretation. The form creates the content, and becomes the content itself; likewise, the content supports the form and mold into the form. In spite of the heavy use of different calligraphic scripts in his works, Xue Song has nevertheless delivered an original creation.
In Mountain and Water Series 2, Xue chose to reenact the spirit of conventional ink art with written scripts. The depth and dimensionalised citations lend distinctness to his work, as they challenge traditional viewer preconceptions of ink art. In so doing, they illustrate the artist’s avant-garde artistic prose. The influence of his training in stage art at the Shanghai Theatre Academy has richly defined his artistic prowess; the significance of his piece can often cast a dramatic and magical spell on viewers. In this piece, 'Mountain' and 'Water' acts as both a backdrop, and the protagonist.